The United States Air Force's 125th Fighter Wing (125 FW) is an Air National Guard unit located at Jacksonville Air National Guard Base at Jacksonville International Airport, Florida. The 125 FW also maintains an alert detachment of F-15 Eagle fighter aircraft at Homestead ARB in South Florida.
The 125th Fighter Wing has a dual mission - one state and one federal. The state mission under Title 32 United States Code (Title 32 USC) is to provide trained and equipped personnel to protect life and property and to preserve peace, order, and public safety. The federal mission under Title 10 USC is to provide fully trained and qualified personnel to the Commander, United States Northern Command / North American Aerospace Defense Command in time of war or national emergency for the defense of the North American Continent. It is also available to other combatant commanders for forward deployment in order to perform air superiority/air dominance missions in other theaters outside of the United States.
The roots of the 125th Fighter Wing date back to the period following World War II when the unit was first organized as the 159th Fighter Squadron on 9 February 1947 with an initial strength of 18 personnel and was equipped with the P-51 Mustang. The squadron subsequently established an operating base at the Jacksonville Imeson Municipal Airport. In 1948, the 159th became one of the first Air National Guard units to be equipped with jets when it converted to the F-80C Shooting Star.
The unit was called to active duty on 10 October 1950 as a result of the outbreak of the Korean Conflict. After a nine-month conversion from the F-80 to the F-84E Thunderjet, the unit deployed to Japan where it flew air defense missions over the Korean theater. In so doing, it became one of the first units to employ in-flight refueling operations in combat. The unit was released from active duty on 9 July 1952, returning home to be re-equipped with the F-51H Mustang.
During the remainder of the early 1950s, the 159th was equipped with a multitude of different aircraft, including the T-6, B-26, C-45, F-51H, T-33, F-80, and F-86A. By the end of 1954, the unit was equipped with an entire squadron of F-80s.
On 1 July 1956, the primary unit designation was changed to the 125th Fighter Interceptor Group (125 FIG), and the unit converted to the F-86D Super Sabre with the primary mission of air defense. In 1958, the 125th became the first Air National Guard unit to earn the right to compete in WILLIAM TELL, and was the first team ever to fire a perfect score in that competition.
In July 1960, the 125th converted from the F-86D to the all-weather, supersonic F-102A/B Delta Dagger. In 1971, following completion of the new Jacksonville International Airport, the 125 FIG relocated from Jacksonville Imeson Airport to a new installation at the new airport. With the concurrent closure of Imeson Airport and its conversion to an industrial park, the 125 FIG vacated its former facilities and turned over same to the City of Jacksonville.
In July 1974, the 125 FIG conversted to the F-106A/B Delta Dart. Only one year after the F-106 conversion, the unit again earned the right to compete that year's annual Air Force air-to-air weapons competition, WILLIAM TELL ‘76, at Tyndall AFB, Florida.
In April 1987, the 125th converted to the F-16A/B, a multi-role fighter that was subsequently modified as the ADF-16 specifically designed for the Air Defense role. The unit was the first to assume NORAD Air Defense Alert with the F-16ADF, the first operational F-16ADF unit to employ the AIM-7 missile and the first F-16ADF unit to sit alert with the AIM-7 missile.
With the disestablishment of Tactical Air Command (TAC) in 1992, the 125 FIG's gaining command changed to the newly created Air Combat Command (ACC). As part of this change, the unit's designation was changed to 125th Fighter Group (125 FG). With creation of the USAF "objective wing" construct in the early 1990s, the bulk of all Air National Guard groups with operational flying missions were redesignated as wings. As a result, the 125 FIG was subsequently redesignated as the 125th Fighter Wing (125 FW), the designation it continues to hold today.
In June 1995, the 125 FW converted to the F-15A and F-15B Eagle, a fighter which added air superiority capability to the Air Defense Mission. During the late 1990s, the 125 FW was also fully integrated into the USAF Air and Space Expeditionary Force (AEF) construct and routinely deployed aircraft and personnel to the 363rd Air Expeditionary Wing at Prince Sultan Air Base, Al Kharj, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in support of Operation SOUTHERN WATCH, enforcing the No Fly Zone over southern Iraq. Since 11 Sep 2001, the wing has been extensively involved in Operation NOBLE EAGLE, performing its historic continental air defense mission, as well as continuing to deploy aircraft and personnel to U.S. Central Command Air Forces (USCENTAF) in Southwest Asia in support of Operations ENDURING FREEDOM and IRAQI FREEDOM.
On a daily basis, the 125 FW is responsible for the maintenance of a USNORTHCOM/NORAD Air Defense Alert mission at both its home station in Jacksonville, Florida and at an additional operating location at Homestead ARB, Florida. In this capacity, the wing provides armed F-15 aircraft capable of intercepting, identifying, and, if necessary, destroying unknown aircraft which penetrate sovereign U.S. airspace. In the past, this threat has included Soviet Tu-95 Bear bombers, various Soviet-built Cuban Air Force fighters, and civilian narcotics traffickers of various nationalities.
When it initially converted to the Air Defense Fighter (ADF) variant of the F-16A, the 125 FW was the first operational NORAD Air Defense Alert unit to employ the AIM-7 Sparrow III missile, the first F-16ADF unit to sit alert with the AIM-7, and the first unit to deploy to the former Howard AFB, Panama in support of JCS-directed operation CORONET NIGHTHAWK using enhanced identification tactics. In October 1995, the 125 FW became the first unit ever to complete a transition from one fourth generation fighter to another fourth generation fighter as it transitioned from the F-16ADF to the F-15A/B. In April 1997, the 125 FW became the first Air Defense Unit to employ as Blue Air in an Offensive Counter Air (OCA) role, integrated with an active duty unit during a Red Flag exercise at Nellis AFB, Nevada.
The 125 FW was rated “Outstanding” during an Alert Force Evaluation by the North American Aerospace Defense Command Inspector General in November 1997. This was the highest rating ever given by NORAD. In January 1998, the 125th Fighter Wing received an “Outstanding” on its Operational Readiness Inspection (ORI). In 2000, the wing began transitioning to the F-15A/B Multistage Improvement Program (MSIP) variant of the Eagle, and in 2006 transitioned again to the newer F-15C and F-15D models of the Eagle.
The 125 FW also operates a single C-130E Hercules aircraft for logistical support of the wing, geographically separated units (GSUs) of the Florida Air National Guard and additional "as needed" support to the Florida Army National Guard. The 125 FW also operates a C-26B aircraft in support of state and federal law enforcement agencies under Title 32 USC authority.
They Recently participated in Red Flag (USAF).